We have returned from the family reunion. It was fantastic.
We left Wednesday, June 28th and all of us flew to Chicago. Well, most of us. My sister's husband flew out later, but my Mom, Dad, my brother, his wife and their four daughter, my sister, Hubby, Thing 1 and 2 and I all flew out at 5:00 pm. Well, it was closer to 5:30 because we sat on the ground for a while. Remember, I've got a six and three year old with me.
We were supposed to land at 9:00 or something like that. But there was weather over Chicago so they diverted us to Milwaukee after about an hour of circling. We had to sit on the airplane out on the tarmac while they refueled. I sat next to Thing 2, Hubby sat with Thing 1, and Mom sat by me while my siste sat by Dad. My brother and family were at the very back of the plane.
Thing 2 had a really good flight. She ROARED a lot, as she had decided she was some sort of tiger, my sister and Dad sitting three rows ahead of us said they heard her most of the way through the flight. She loudly commented on all the airplanes she saw out the window on the ground. When we finally landed in Milwaukee, both Thing 1 and 2 shouted “wheeeeeeeee!!!” much to the amusement of the people around us. About three minutes after landing, Thing 2 fell asleep. Practically instantaneously. She curled up and put her head in my lap. Thing 1 was drawing in her doodle book most of the way, or in a couple of drawing/sticker books Grandma had supplied, and she was happy as a clam to be drawing with daddy’s undivided attention. When we finally got back to Chicago, my niece Megan’s car seat was missing. After waiting at the luggage claim desk for about an hour, another niece found it in the unclaimed luggage from a flight from Atlanta. How it got over there, I don’t know. Then we spent another hour and a half waiting for our rental vans. It was about 1:00 am or so, maybe 2:00. But it didn’t stop there. After having gotten lost on the way to the hotel, where they had lost our reservations, and finally getting rooms and putting the kids to bed, I got to bed around 4:00 a.m.
Thursday we went to the Field Museum. It was really neat, the kids got to see some dinosaurs and their highlight was buying something at the museum shop. We were able to see the King Tut exhibit. It was interesting, but disappointing that they didn’t show a sarcophagus. We went to the cheesecake factory for dinner, and Thng 1 ate most of a pizza, and Thing 2 ate most of Papa’s lentil soup, as well as a couple of other people’s dinners. Her own dinner, which I can’t remember what it was, she didn’t eat much of. I think they passed it down to Niece Megan. I was awfully proud of them both, though. They did great.
Friday we went to the Science and Industry museum. Mom and Dad stayed home with Megan, who was sick. But the rest of us had a great time. Hubby and my brother and sister went to see the DaVinci exhibit, but said it was something of a let down. Sis-in-law and I took the girls around while they were doing that, Thing 1 and 2 looked at the farm stuff while SIL and her girls looked at the Miniature Fairy Castle, which Thing 1 and 2 were bored with in a matter of moments.
Saturday we went to the Brookfield Zoo. My sister left to go get her husband from the airport, so we split up the party a little. The monkey exhibit is amazing, and they have a really nice Children’s zoo that Thing 1 and Youngest Niece and Thing 2 enjoyed immensely. They got to brush some goats, which they thought was the best thing ever. Thing 2 told each goat she brushed that it was, in fact, the best goat ever.
Sunday we went to Evanston for some Hecky’s barbecue and to see my brother and his wife's old stomping grounds. We went to the park on Lake Michigan and ate, and the kids played at the playground.
That night the official reunion started with dinner and a catch-up meeting at my uncle David's ward building.
Monday, July 3rd, was a downtown day. We went to the Shedd Aquarium, with our immediate family. The rest of the bigger family was downtown too. Since we had the “city passes” we’d bought we got in on the pass, and were able to bypass TWO huge lines. First we got out of the HUGE line because we had a stroller. Then we got out of that slow moving line and just walked right up to the desk because we had city passes. The kids just loved the aquarium. The fish displays were really interesting. The only bad thing was Hubby and Things 1 and 2 and I got separated from the rest of the family looking for an elevator. We ended up sitting through a dolphin show that was a 30 minute wait for it to start, then a 20 minute waste of our time because you were mostly staring at an empty pool, listening to a guy tell you how marvelous the dolphins are. So we felt like we missed about an hour of the aquarium because of that. After the Aquarium, we went to the Taste of Chicago. Hubby came up with a really good idea that instead of pushing the stroller all around in this oppressive crowd, one of us would sit with the kids while the other foraged for food. This worked really well, and lo and behold after we’d been sitting and munching for a while, my folks walked up. I had thought we wouldn’t be seeing them until the rendezvous time.
We went to see the big bean – a very reflective sculpture – and the millennium fountain where the girls ran and played in the water.
Hubby and I really battled with the decision of whether or not to stay downtown to watch the fireworks. We weren’t going to, but then decided it would be an opportunity we wouldn’t want to miss. But after the girls were all wet and tired of playing in the fountain and it was getting to be around 8:00, we decided to go home. After a fiasco of trying to meet up with the vans which my brother and sister and walked back to get and couldn’t get through to us because of all the road closures, we drove back to the hotels. That night Hubby and I drove the girls around trying to find some fireworks for Thing 1. We followed David’s instructions but they were somewhat faulty, guiding us to an intersection of two roads that didn’t intersect. We ended up sitting at a park looking at some little fireworks way far away. We could hear some going on around us – turns out it was at a raceway a little ways off. When we got back to the hotel we found that from their patio they’d had a really good view of some fireworks… sigh.
Tuesday July 4th was the Family Olympics. It was fun but it was hard to pay attention to the activities while taking care of Thing 2, who isn’t exactly a team player. Our team didn’t win, neither did Hubby’s, but Mom’s did. I can’t even remember who was on her team… maybe my brother… I’m not sure.
Wednesday was Six Flags. We had a really good time. We started at the water park, but we didn’t know our way around and had a hard time with finding somewhere the girls could play, and watching them while riding the rides we wanted to ride. There was lots of squirting in your face stuff at the little kids’ areas, which neither of my girls like. There were a couple of great adult rides, but less for the kids.
Just before we left that area we found something they might have enjoyed more, but by then we were ready to be moving on. All Thing 2 wanted to do was ride the merry-go-round. We distracted her a little bit, but at the end of almost every ride she announced she wanted to go on the merry-go-round.
Hubby took Thing 1 off for a while to find some roller coasters she could ride, and after lots of looking without riding, found one. He and I broke off and RAN to a big old cool roller coaster, hopped right on – no waiting – and ran back. That was the only big coaster he rode. We had a nice time, letting Thing 2 ride and ride the merry-go-round at the end of the day while Hubby and Thing 1 and the older girls went back to the mild roller coaster he found. We ate a late dinner at Chili’s and again I was awfully proud of our girls, they did great.
Thursday morning most of the rest of the reunion went to Nauvoo. My sister and her husband, Hubby and the girls and I opted to stay in Chicago. We decided to move up to mom and Dad’s and my brother's family's rooms which were bigger, though it was quite a lot of effort, and we couldn’t move the bed against the wall like we did in our original room. Also they didn’t change the sheets, and we had to call down and ask for sheets to change them ourselves. The service in that hotel was pretty bad.
I’m used to being the one everyone is waiting on by the time I get myself and the girls ready, but Thursday my Bro-in-law did laundry in the slower than cold tar machines at the hotel. FINALLY he was ready and we drove back into town and went back to the Science and Industry museum. We gave the girls a lot of time at the playground place while my sister and her husband took a lot of time looking at the captured sub.
We went to Papa Deaux’s for dinner that night, which was good but the girls were not overly enthusiastic about their meals. But they did pretty good. Thing 2 liked the fried catfish much better than the chicken.
Friday we went to the Art Institute. Shortly after we dumped out or hid all of our water and food we were carrying in the stroller because they wouldn’t let us take it in the museum, Thing 2 started screaming that she had to have a drink and she was hungry. We made a bee-line for the café, and in the elevator on the way up she fell asleep in the stroller. Sigh. So we spent the better part of our time at the Art Institute in the café. We did see the miniature rooms, which the girls loved, and some statuary and furniture, which Thing 1 found interesting. I got to see a little bit of impressionistic stuff and we walked by some modern stuff on the way too and from the café, but all in all I wanted Thing 1 to see more of the museum than she did.
Saturday we were flying out, and didn’t know quite what to do with ourselves between check-out time of noon and take-off time of 5:00. So we went back to the park where the Olympics were, and who should we run into but my cousin and her family, Neil and Kara Leigh, who live in Chicago. Their son Brady was playing baseball at the park. So after his game, we all went out for lunch at a hot dog place nearby, and then over to their house for a little rest and talk before we left for the airport. All in all it worked out really well.
The flight back was a piece of cake. After an initial shuffling with a nice gentleman for a window seat so both girls could have one, Thing 2 fell asleep right after take-off. Thing 1 sat doing her doodling, so Bro-in-law and I did the puzzles in the back of the inflight magazine, and I don’t know what Hubby and my sister did to entertain themselves. But boy howdy it was a really nice vacation. We’ve been back almost a week, and the house still isn’t cleaned up.